From ‘Required Review Completed’ to ‘Under Review’: Understanding manuscript status changes

Submitting a manuscript for peer review is a crucial step in the academic publishing journey, marking the initiation of a meticulous evaluation process. However, the journey of a research manuscript through the peer review process is often characterised by fluctuating statuses that can leave authors puzzled and anxious. One such common scenario is the shift from ‘Required Review Completed’ to ‘Under Review’. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this status change and shed light on the intricate nature of the peer review process.

Dynamic Nature of Peer Review Status

The peer review status may initially transition from ‘Submitted’ to ‘Under Review’ once the manuscript is assigned to peer reviewers. Following this, it may shift to ‘Required Review Completed’ when the editor receives feedback from all assigned reviewers. However, this is not the end of the story. Manuscript statuses can oscillate back and forth between ‘Required Review Completed’ and ‘Under Review’ before a final decision is made by the editor. These changes can be nerve-wracking for authors, but they are an inherent part of the thorough and meticulous evaluation that manuscripts undergo. The fluctuations reflect the editor’s ongoing efforts to navigate through the review process, taking into consideration the feedback from peer reviewers and making informed decisions regarding the manuscript’s fate. 

Factors Influencing the Duration of Manuscript Peer Review

The duration of the peer review process can vary significantly and is influenced by a combination of factors. Understanding these factors is crucial for authors who are eagerly awaiting feedback on their manuscripts. Here are some key factors that contribute to the duration of the review process:

1. Journal Policies and Practices: Each journal has its own set of policies and procedures for the peer review process. Some journals may have a more streamlined and efficient review system, while others may follow a more rigorous or time-consuming approach.

2. Field of Study: The nature of the research and the academic discipline to which the manuscript belongs can impact the review timeline. Different fields may have distinct review standards, and the complexity of the research field may necessitate more time for thorough evaluation.

3. Manuscript Complexity: Manuscripts with intricate methodologies, extensive datasets, or highly specialised content may require more time for reviewers to assess and provide comprehensive feedback.

4. Reviewer Availability and Responsiveness: The availability of qualified peer reviewers is a critical factor. Reviewers often have busy schedules, and securing their commitment to thoroughly evaluate a manuscript can take time.

5. Editorial Workload: The workload of the editorial team, particularly the handling editor, can affect the speed of the review process. Journals with high submission volumes or limited editorial resources may experience longer review timelines.

Deciphering Manuscript Status Changes from ‘Required Reviews Completed’ to ‘Under Review’

The transition from ‘Required Reviews Completed’ to ‘Under Review’ in the manuscript submission process can be attributed to various reasons. While the specifics may vary, here are some common explanations for this status change:

1. Editor’s Decision in Progress: A change in status from ‘Required Reviews Completed’ to ‘Under Review’ may signify that the editor has successfully gathered all the necessary reviews from the assigned reviewers. At this stage, the editor is diligently analysing the feedback, weighing the merits and shortcomings of the manuscript, and is in the crucial phase of making a decision regarding its fate. This step involves considering the reviewers’ comments, assessing the manuscript’s alignment with the journal’s standards, and determining whether revisions are necessary before a final verdict is reached.

2. Incomplete Peer Reviews: Conversely, the shift could imply that not all peer reviews are yet available. One or more reviewers may still be in the process of providing their assessments. This delay may result from various factors, such as unforeseen unavailability, time constraints, or the need for additional expertise on specific aspects of the research. The status change indicates that the editorial team is actively awaiting the pending reviews before progressing further in the decision-making process.

3. Manuscript Sent for Additional Reviews: Another possible scenario is that the editor has decided to send the manuscript for additional reviews. This decision may stem from conflicting opinions among the initial peer reviewers or a perceived need for specialised insights. The editor, in pursuit of a thorough and fair assessment, opts to seek additional perspectives to address any discrepancies or uncertainties. This stage of the process is crucial for ensuring the robustness of the evaluation before a final decision is made.

4. Other Potential Reasons: The status change might also be influenced by various unforeseen factors. This could include technical glitches in the peer review system, requests for clarifications or additional information from the authors, or a need for further checks related to ethical considerations or potential plagiarism. While less common, these factors can contribute to the dynamic nature of the peer review process.

In conclusion, it is essential to acknowledge that the review process can be a lengthy one, and multiple rounds of reviews and revisions may be necessary before a final decision is reached. This iterative nature is designed to ensure the quality and rigor of published research, aligning with the high standards of scholarly publications. However, if authors find that the duration of the review process exceeds what is considered reasonable or if there is a prolonged period of inactivity, it is advisable to reach out to the Journal Editor. Authors can write a polite and professional inquiry seeking clarity on the status change of their paper.




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